This Wednesday, May 15th (2013) is our first “Be Inspiring” day. It is a day carefully placed in May for our celebration of teachers. The concept is for teachers to plan something purposeful and inspiring for their students on or around May 15th. It’s a chance for you to try something new or go out of your comfort zone for the sake of inspiring your students. To join other educators who have pledged to Be Inspiring (and to see what they plan to do) go to our Be Inspiring page!
In preparation for this day, we have spent some time chatting it up on Twitter. Earlier this month, I co-moderated two of my favorite chats: #ntchat and #4thchat leading a discussion on what it means to Be Inspiring and how to go about doing it. You can see the archives for these chats here: #ntchat #4thchat
Both chats were uplifting and encouraging, dare I say, inspiring all in and of themselves. Let’s face it, anyone who has spent any amount of time sharing and interacting with the wonderful educator PLN that Twitter has to offer is bound to be inspired by the vast range of colleagues you will find. We all love what we do and we get a sense of collaborative power when we share that with others.
So what came out of those chats and the ongoing conversations about #BInspiring day? I went in thinking it would be a huge share fest, a smack-down of great ideas of what you can do with your students and there were some great ideas shared. For example, working on “Genius Hour” or “Passion Projects” where students work on something they are passionate about and later present to the class. Maybe having a Studio Day is a way to inspire your students to do something creative. But the ideas of activities wasn’t the focus of either chat. It was more about the overall feel of an inspiring classroom.
Lead by Example to Be Inspiring
Many teachers noted that to be inspiring, we need to lead the way. Whether it be by modeling and encouraging random acts of kindness or noticing the the good things others do for other people and the environment. A couple teachers chimed in with ideas to research inspiring role models or to recognize inspiring people (parents, teachers, book characters, others) in children’s lives. Someone pointed out that students need to see that their teacher is inspired by the work and world around them.
Dig Deep, Question and Challenge Your Students
Another big theme from teachers about what it means to be inspiring was to get students to dig deep into something, question and challenge themselves – really make them think. We want our students to be life-long learners, to constantly wonder about the world around them; to take risks and make mistakes. It’s taking content and going further than the syllabus or teacher’s edition of a text. When you can be inspiring, you are motivating students not only to learn, but to WANT to learn!
An Inspired Frame of Mind
Being inspiring goes much deeper than the curriculum we must teach, it is a frame of mind. We never give up on students, we foster creativity and passion learning. We strive to motivate and encourage students (and our peers!). We validate students and their ideas and show that we believe in them.
I know I haven’t quoted anyone yet from these chats, but I must do one here. To sum it all up, I go back to the motto here at The Inspired Classroom: “Get Inspired, Be Inspiring!” One teacher on Twitter definitely got that feeling about what it means to be an inspiring teacher:
Chatting with other educators who are positive and energizing is inspiring all in itself. You can get a feel for that energy if you visit the archived chats or go on Twitter yourself. Hopefully, you have that type of support system right in your own school. But remember, whether you are part of a clan or feel like an island, what you do every day matters greatly in the lives of your students.
So go – Be Inspiring today!
Want to pledge to Be Inspiring? Go to our Be Inspiring page!
“Monkey see, Monkey do”
I think it’s fantastic you are providing a forum for teachers to share their ideas and stories to help foster real results in the classroom! I also think it’s important for the teachers to continue to feel inspired and love for their job. I recently read a book that I think would be perfect for your ongoing Twitter discussion that will help inspire and remind teachers why they got into the education system in the first place! It is a non-fiction book called “Mission to Teach” by author Dipak Basu (http://missiontoteach.org/). The book is about his incredible daughter, Jhumki Basu, who taught tough teenage immigrants and minorities often from violent environments, unable to break out of a vicious cycle of neglect and poverty. Jhumki was determined to find a way to get through to these kids and making learning science fun. She promoted democratic teaching methods that used the student’s own personal experiences to help with the lessons. Not only did she have a large obstacle to face in the classroom but at home too. Jhumki was diagnosed with breast cancer and fought it for seven years until it took her life. She did not let this horrible disease hinder her work in the classroom and her revolutionary teaching methods paid off. High school completion rates in the undeserved institutions she touched, and those touched by teachers who have followed her model, have risen from 30% to over 90%. Kids, whom Jhumki and her followers worked for, were candidates for a lifetime of drugs and crime. They are today college graduates and on their way to careers of their dreams. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone. It’s inspiring and motivational and Jhumki deserves to be recognized as an amazing life-changing teacher! I really do hope you will give it a read and share it with your teacher community
Melissa, Thanks for your comment. That books sounds really amazing. Thanks for sharing. It’s great to read truly inspiring stories about teachers.